O’Brien resort park to house firefighters battling Smith River Complex

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. – A weather advisory being issued for the Illinois Valley area, near the Smith River Complex, as thunderstorms are expected.

“This is going to include heavy winds, along with thunder, lightning and with the probability of this lightning starting new fires,” Northwest Incident Management Team 13 Randall Rishe said.

Team 13 said they have resources at the ready for when the storms come in.

“We have initial attack abilities that with resources on scene who can dispatch and start putting line around,” Rishe said.

Over 1,400 personnel are currently working the Smith River Complex. 

More resources are coming daily, including the ‘Oregon State Fire Marshall’s Office,’ who began sending in crews on Wednesday.

“We are being cautious about the fire, therefore we are bringing these resources in to make sure in the event that the wind patterns come and the storm is worse than we hope or expect that we already have those resources on scene,” Rishe said.

Housing firefighters can be a challenge during any fire.

But the manager of Lone Mountain Resort, Chris Love, is making his RV and camping site available.

“I’m offering the resort as an oasis, we have hot showers, barbecues, lodging, and anything I can do,” Love said.

The O‘Brien based resort is less than 10 miles from the Smith River Complex.

Love speaks to firefighters everyday and although O‘Brien is in a Level 2 evacuation zone, he knows anything can change.

“A spark from ash can light just about anything up,” he said. “I think they’re coordinating pretty well, the efforts are working.

Firefighters even asked him if they can use fresh water from the resort’s pond.

It’s a prime spot for firefighters to not only stay, but also be stationed at.

“There’s a fire station right across the street, there’s area to park equipment between the resort and the market here in O‘Brien,” Love said. “They liked that idea, they said they were coming, they’re on their way. But they got pulled in different directions, they’re still being pulled. But at the same time we’re here to help.”

To stay up-to-date on evacuations in your area visit ‘RVEM.org‘.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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